In the fall of 2010, one of the women in our Love & Lunch support groups, Cecilia, was dying. She was our translator. Because our support group which had sustained her through years of an abusive relationship was located in a church, she joined that church. In the two years of her life, Cecilia had gone through RCIA and been confirmed, attended every retreat we had and translated it into Spanish, and was a quiet spiritual force in our lives. She fought cancer for 9 years, and then it went to her brain. We supported her through the end or her life, helping her get into the same Extended Care Center as her mother, moving the support group to her bedside, giving her the first birthday party she ever had in her life, and loving her to death. We paid for her funeral, and housed her sister, Rosita who came in from out of town. Rosita made the rounds of all Cecilia’s support groups, meeting all her friends and hearing their love for her sister.
The Tuesday after Easter 2013, I got a call from Cecilia’s sister, Rosita. She told me their mother, Blanca, was now dying. I arranged for her transportation from the airport to the hospital, and waited for her call to bring her to her place for the night. She called once, left no message and when I tried to call, a weird busy came on. When she couldn’t contact me, Rosita resurrected her contact with her long lost brother to stay with him.
I also contacted the various people who supported Cecilia and Rosita 2 and ½ years ago. Their relationships are being resurrected, and their friendships renewed. The times we shared with Cecilia are always with us, and Rosita’s presence reminds us of Cecilia’s journey from the cross to her own resurrection.
When Rosita went to visit her mother on the first day, she looked at the whiteboard where they listed her mother’s caregivers. Imagine Rosita’s surprise when she saw the name of the Nurse’s aide (see picture) written just the way her sister used to write it. Sign of resurrection!! Cecilia is still taking care of their mother.
The trust and reliance of this family on God for sustenance is inspiring, and the response of the community to Rosita’s bravery in coming to be with her mother with no place to stay and no plan except to see and be with her mother all put me in mind of the community of believers that were present at the first resurrection. They were challenged to trust God in their fear.
Jane, one of the women in our Love & Lunch group called during Rosita’s visit with the Love & Dinner group to say that she needed prayer for her son’s back pain. Earlier today Jane had expressed her pain around the death of her younger son many years ago, and we were able to listen and pray for God to be present in her memory. She was able to receive that grace, experiencing that painful memory in a new way. At the meeting this morning Jane had spoken about Simon of Cyrene and how he had been forced to help Jesus to carry the cross, and how we joyfully and lovingly play Simon for one another.
Always intermingled, the cross and the resurrection. Daily we are volunteer Simons helping those we serve to carry their crosses, knowing that our service is to be escorts to the resurrection, and in escorting those we serve, to experience our own daily resurrection, new life, and deepening love. We do what we can to follow in those precious footprints left on the trail to Calvary so many years ago, leading to the Kingdom not of this world.
Please pray for Blanca as she enters her final days, and for Rosita as she escorts her mother to her sister Cecilia’s side. And remember our women and myself who are being Simon to Rosita and her mom. And yourselves as you escort those you serve to the place God is calling them to be.
Louise M. Sandberg is a IVC Spiritual Reflector and Volunteer, as Director of the Mary & Elizabeth Center which reaches out to women in need on Long Island, NY. She is a pediatric home care nurse, and facilitates Wildflower groups for women healing from childhood abuse, praying for healing of feelings and memories.